6 things to know about Facebook videos in 2018

May 23, 2018

Written by Benedict Nicholson

Facebook videos are one of the key aspects of the platform, and Facebook has repeatedly committed to the format going into 2018. We look at the data to see what’s working in video so far this year.

We’ve talked about Facebook videos before, but it’s an ever interesting topic, so we decided to delve into it again. Even in 2016, views per day numbered in the billions and a hundred million hours were spent watching video on an average day.

Even with Facebook’s recent algorithm shift, which is said to have reduced the visibility of viral videos on the platform, video is clearly still a vital part of the Facebook strategy.

We looked at the top non-live, Facebook native videos for the year so far to see if we could spot any trends, and these are six things that jumped out at us. 

Who are the top creators of Facebook videos? 

Surprisingly, probably not people you’ve necessarily heard of. Out of the top 100 videos of the year so far, only a couple came from what you might call traditional mainstream publishers, with ABC News and Fox News both featuring once in the 100 most engaged Facebook videos.

The most frequently appearing names were the viral publishers such as NTD Funniest or UNILAD, alongside celebrities like Will Smith and motivational speaker Jay Shetty, all of whom featured multiple times in the ranking.

What is the average length of Facebook videos? 

We looked at the average length of the top 10 videos for 2018 to date, and found that they were significantly longer than you might expect.

Received wisdom, especially among more traditional publishers, has always been that videos should be a minute long, or two minutes at most, unless it’s a specific piece of reporting that requires more time.

This list belies that trend, however, with seven of the ten most engaged Facebook video posts in 2018 so far coming in at three minutes or longer, and the average across the ten being three minutes eleven seconds.

These are mostly viral publishers, who tend to be trendsetters in this area, so don’t be surprised to see Facebook Video getting longer in the future as publishers catch on to the trend.

Facebook Watch also plays into this somewhat, as publishers and influencers begin to build a brand around their video content. Much like on YouTube, if your audience have found your videos specifically, and actively seek out your content, then they’re not going to be turned off by a long video. In fact, more content might be what they’re craving.

The most commented and most shared videos on Facebook 

As we can see from the tables below, there is a significant difference between what is shared and what is commented upon. There is a good amount of crossover between what gets shared and what gets engagements more generally, with six of the ten most shared videos also appearing in the most engaged list.

Compare the videos that were most commented upon, and there is a big difference. In fact, none of the most commented videos appeared in the top tens of either the most engaged or the most shared videos.

This shows that, at least as far as video goes, and despite the recent algorithm changes, the number of shares is still more predictive of a videos overall engagements than a comment is.

Share numbers are also much higher than comments are in general, with the most shared video having around 9x the number of shares than the most commented video had comments.

How long are the captions for Facebook video? 

The top 100 videos had an average caption length average of 6.58 words.

The shortest contained zero words and only three 😂😂😂 emoji. There were two further videos in the ranking that only used one word in their headline.

Longest came from Blossom, with their video “From risqué to … hey 😉 5 clever fashion hacks for all the ladies who have a Vogue style and a dollar store budget!” clocking in at 22 words. This was an unusually long title though, with only one other headline coming in at over 20 words.

As a general rule, viral publishers tended to use shorter headlines, while influencers and celebrities tended to be longer and more conversational, which we can see in the Will Smith example. 

What are the successful Facebook videos about? 

The topic of the videos varied fairly widely, but there were some common themes to be drawn out.

Kids and animals were, as you might expect, featured heavily in the videos, as were food and DIY hacks. We’ve written about the prevalence of how-to and hack blogs before, and that’s something we’re continuing to see at the start of this year.

Indeed, nineteen of the 100 most engaged videos were a how-to video of some kind, with the majority of those being for DIY projects you could do with kids, hacks for making domestic life easier, or interesting recipes that you’d otherwise never think of.

Beyond animals, cute kids, and hacks, there was one more major theme that came through in the most engaged videos, and that was motivational speaking. Eleven of the top hundred videos focused on some kind of motivational aspect, and Jay Shetty had this category locked down, with five of those eleven videos coming from his Facebook Watch channel.

What are the emotions of the top Facebook videos? 

In terms of the emotion driven, this is very much tied to the content being created. A lot of the animal and baby videos are focused on making the viewer happy through providing cuteness, which is a very unique form of happiness. This was by far the most common emotion driven by these videos with 26 of the top 100 being cute videos.

Sad videos accounted for four of the most engaged, while funny videos were fifteen of the top hundred. Beyond that, the videos were general entertainment, how-to or motivational videos. This means about half of the videos were intended to provoke a specific emotional response, while about half had more general informative/entertainment goals.

For more of the top Facebook video trends of 2018, check out our guide to social videos here.

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Benedict Nicholson

In addition to leading the NewsWhip Research Center in New York, Benedict Nicholson manages partnerships with internationally recognized media outlets furthering data journalism, which includes NewsWhip’s Data for Democracy program. Benedict also facilitates consultations with communicators from the top 10 public relations agencies across America and Europe and with Fortune 500 brands to discuss consumer engagement trends and effective media monitoring. Email Benedict via benedict.nicholson@newswhip.com.

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